The 12th series of Top Gear contained eight episodes, and premiered on 2 November 2008, with the usual presenting team of Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, James May and The Stig. Clarkson was injured while filming the series, after crashing a lorry through a brick wall at 56 mph in the first episode's HGV challenge. The running joke regarding the Dacia Sandero continues from series 11, with the alteration that Clarkson is now the one making the announcement with feigned enthusiasm, to utter indifference from May. Each news segment also features one of the hosts wearing something unusual, like slippers or a garishly patterned shirt. The only reference to this is that one of the other hosts will, at some point in the segment, ask if they're wearing it for a bet. The Stig, instead of listening to music during power laps, now listens to morse code. The final episode, the "Top Gear: Vietnam Special", aired two weeks after the rest of the series as part of the BBC's Christmas line-up. The series was followed by four "Best Of Top Gear" specials, charting the best moments from Series 11 and 12.
Jeremy, Richard and James buy second-hand lorries and set about discovering how easy it is to become an HGV driver. The Porsche 911 and Lamborghini Gallardo are also tested, and Michael Parkinson is the Star in a Reasonably Priced Car.
Jeremy, Richard and James travel to the US to take a road trip from San Francisco to the heart of Utah in three new-generation muscle cars, hoping this time to avoid a mob of angry locals pelting them with rocks. The Fiat 500 Abarth gets a test drive and Will Young is the Star in a Reasonably Priced Car.
Clarkson, Hammond and James take on the challenge of making an ordinary second-hand car lap the test track as fast as a brand-new, purpose-built sports saloon. James enlists the help of F1 world champion Mika Hakkinen in a quest to discover why the Finns are such good racing drivers. Richard hammers around the track in the outlandish Veritas sports car. Mark Wahlberg is the Hollywood Star in a Reasonably Priced Car.
Jeremy, Richard and James are challenged to drive from the heart of Switzerland to the north-western coast of England on just one tank of fuel, with the winner switching on the Blackpool illuminations. James also power tests the Pagani Zonda F Roadster, and the Stig sets a lap time in the Bugatti Veyron. Grand Designs presenter Harry Enfield is the Star in a Reasonably Priced Car.
Richard celebrates the 40th anniversary of the Ferrari Daytona by taking one back to its spiritual home - the Italian Riviera - before trying to beat James and a powerboat in a race from Portofino to St Tropez. Jeremy tests the new BMW M3 saloon and compares it with the Lexus IS-F. Grand Designs presenter Kevin McCloud is the Star in a Reasonably Priced Car.
Jeremy asks whether the Eastern bloc countries ever made a good car, and Richard assesses the performance of new German sports model the Veritas. The latest Ford Fiesta is also put through its paces in a stringent road test, and London mayor Boris Johnson is the Star in a Reasonably Priced Car.
James visits California to learn about the hydrogen-fuelled Honda Clarity, and Jeremy assesses the performance of Tesla's battery-powered supercar the Roadster. Richard looks back over 50 years of British touring car racing, and singer Tom Jones is the Star in a Reasonably Priced Car.
Arriving in Vietnam, James, Richard and James have to travel the entire length of the country in just eight days. But first they have to buy some suitable transport for the trip, and despite having several million Dong in their pockets, this proves to be rather more difficult than they expected, especially in one of the most expensive car markets in the world.